Dusk is one of the most dangerous times to drive, particularly in rural areas or on highways. The fading light at dusk means drivers have to deal with significantly reduced visibility, and we also tend to feel more tired as night approaches. You’re more likely to encounter a drunk driver on the road after sunset, and dusk is also the time when animals prowl around. More accidents occur at night than during the day, so what can you do to protect yourself? Here are our top tips for driving safely at dusk.
Glare can make it seriously hard to see, so try to minimise exposing your eyes to any unnecessary lights while you’re driving. Dim your dashboard lights so they’re not shining in your eyes, and try not to stare into oncoming lights. If another driver approaches you with their high beams turned on, or their headlights are simply right at your eye level, the glare of the lights might dazzle you. If this occurs, divert your gaze to the site and use the lane markers or median strip as a guide. If a car behind you has its high beams on, tilt your rearview mirror to reflect the light backwards. If you’re driving in a particularly dark area, you can turn your high beams on to see better, but make sure you turn them off if another car is approaching so you don’t blind the other driver.
Beware of animals
If you’re driving along country roads, you’ll need to keep an eye out for animals. If an animal does wander on to the road, often the first sign you’ll see is the reflection of your headlights in their eyes. So keep an eye out for pairs of bright spots in the distance and slow down accordingly.
Check your headlights
As the sun sets, there’s less light available for you to see potential hazards, so keeping your car’s headlights in good condition is extremely important. Before you get behind the wheel, make sure both your headlights work. If one light needs replacing, replace both at the same time, as having one that’s brighter than the other can be distracting. You should also keep the lenses of your headlights clean. Dirt, dead bugs and other grime can build up over time and limit the amount of light your headlights are able to emit. As well as headlights, check that both your brake lights are working – these provide important warnings to other drivers when you’re slowing down.
Stay alert while driving at dusk
Our bodies naturally run on a circadian rhythm, regulating our daily processes and responses. Two of the major “ebbs” in the circadian cycle occur in the early morning and in the afternoon, so dusk is a time when we naturally begin to feel tired. You can help yourself stay alert while driving at dusk by avoiding alcohol and making sure you’re adequately rested. Never take medication that might make you drowsy, and be mindful of what you eat (foods that are high in carbohydrates might make you sleepy!) Finally, put down your mobile phone – and ignore it while you’re behind the wheel.
Look after your windscreen
Keeping your windscreen clean will help you see better while driving at dusk. During the day, we often touch the inside of the windscreen and leave small smears on the glass. At night, these smears can create glare and hinder visibility. To give your windscreen a proper clean inside, polish the glass with newspaper to remove any streaks or residue. You can also keep a microfibre cloth in your glove box to wipe away any small smears that pop up during the day. If any chips or small cracks appear in your windscreen, you should get them fixed before they spread and become irreparable.
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